I bought this machine based on a few postings in a newsgroup called alt.coffee which I get through my ISP. I bought it because I was fed up with the state of affairs with 3 of our previous drip machines - two Brauns and a Krups. All three were incapable of brewing coffee at a hot enough temperature.
This Saeco Latte is capable of it. Other claimed it, I tested it myself. Out of the box, it was brewing straight water at around 200F in the filter. In the carafe, the water is still above 180F.
The machine's brew sense doesn't end there. It has a swing arm brewing device that showers the grinds in the filter. Does a good job of complete saturation. The lid of the carafe is that newstyle "flavorseal" type, so it uses liquid to seal the top and supposedly keep flavors in. The open mouth doesn't help this though. It also brews fast, just fast enough. A full 10 cup pot takes about 8 minutes from start to finish.
The coffee from this machine is outstanding - a testament to brewing at proper temperatures. It is very easygoing with different grinds, and I have yet to produce a poor cup with this machine, even though I've used preground in it at times. I only wish the machine had a thermal carafe. With all the engineering going on inside (I'll write more about that in a second), the glass carafe and heating element (with no auto shutoff, as far as I can tell) really bring it down a bit.
The insides are actually quite impressive. they use a more expensive, heat resistant but pliable opaque plastic inside the unit to house the water for brewing. And right in the back middle, is a strange looking contraption - a vertical container with a funny looking lid. This is the steaming aparatus.
It is used to froth and steam milk. This is the other added benefit of this machine. It will do a fair amount of milk too, and it doesn't take long at all to heat up and get ready to go - less than a minute, it seems. When you turn off the steaming feature, this device inside opens a bypass, and immediately releases all built up steam into the body of the main water chamber. Instant shut off. Nice feature.
The frothing aparatus outside is that Saeco Cappuccinatore invention that can be seen on some Saeco espresso machines and some Pavoni piston machines. It takes some time to figure out a rhythm to using this device, and at first, I didn't like it. Now I like it so much, I use it to do the froth for my espresso shots from my Saeco Classico machine. The proceedure I found is this. Turn on the steam (you turn the main brew knob right instead of left). Keep the hose (which sucks up the milk from another container) in its little holder, with the hole facing the ceiling. Wait till you see water dribbling with a bit of force out the device. Then in the same movement, put your cup or pitcher or whatever under the device, and drop the hose into your milk (I use a pint milk container, right out of the fridge). It will froth right away, and you can adjust the frothing on the fly. As soon as you have enough, turn it off. Some milk will splatter. Get used to it.
Remove your drink / container from under the cappuccinatore, then put an empty glass under it, and get a glass of water. Put the hose in the glass of water, and turn it on again. This will clean the "guts" of the cappuccinatore and the hose. Run for about 30 seconds, then shut off, wipe down, put stuff away. The process sounds complicated, but it works. The trick for me was waiting till the darned thing was hot enough. Before I was putting the hose in cold milk then turning the machine on, and the splatters during heat up were bad, and annoying.
Overall, it is a great machine, has fairly unique styling, and works great for us. First rate coffee, steamed and frothed milk options for lattes and the like, and it is fast and easy to clean.